„Promotion of Think Tank Work on Security Sector Reform and Socio-Economic Challenges in Tunisia“

Workshop in Tunis, Tunesien, 6–9. September 2017

06.09.2017 - 09.09.2017 | 09:00 - 18:00 | Tunis | Nur für geladene Gäste

Kategorie: Tunesien

Das Programm Naher Osten und Nordafrika der DGAP gab im September 2017 einen Workshop zum Thema „Promotion of Think Tank Work on Security Sector Reform and Socio-Economic Challenges in Tunisia“ in Tunis. Die Veranstaltung schließt an einen Workshop an, der im Juli 2017 in Berlin stattfand – damals stellten die Teilnehmenden erste Entwürfe ihrer Politikanalysen vor, diskutierten Themen mit etablierten Experten und absolvierten ein Schreibtraining.

What factors are impeding Tunisia’s socioeconomic development and how can decision-makers tackle them effectively? What measures are needed to reform the Tunisian security sector and what are the key objectives of the reforms? How can greater cooperation between civil society and the state help to counter extremist narratives and improve current de-radicalization strategies? How can the international community support Tunisia’s transformation process? How can think tanks and similar institutions make their voices heard and promote their policy recommendations more effectively to decision-makers? These were some of the questions tackled in the workshop.

The September 2017 workshop organized by the DGAP's Middle East and North Africa program was the second of two devoted to the subject. Twelve mid-level experts from Tunisia, Turkey, and Europe, who had previously participated in a workshop in Berlin from July 12–15, 2017, were in Tunis September 6–9, 2017. The workshop participants presented their policy papers, which they had written in the months between the two workshops, and discussed them with relevant Tunisian and European decision-makers.

The workshop also focused on strengthening the participants’ advocacy skills. For this purpose, participants completed a one-day training module on communication skills and had the opportunity to exchange with two political advocates who have led successful campaigns in Tunisia. These shared their experiences and gave an insight into challenges their work.

The workshop was organized in close cooperation with the German Federal Foreign Office, the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (ifa), the Robert Bosch Stiftung, Joussour, and the Friedich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit in Tunis.

Discussions focused on policy recommendations that would help decision makers tackle key factors currently hampering Tunisia’s political, social, and economic development. Issues tackled during debates ranged from security sector reform, cyber security and (de)radicalization to the issue of decentralization, economic marginalization, and development as well as EU policies toward Tunisia. It also examined how think tanks and civil society organizations can advocate – and communicate – policy recommendations more effectively to the country’s decision makers.

The workshop took place just as Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed announced a major cabinet reshuffle on September 6, 2017. Considering the fluid political circumstances, the participation of Tunisian policy makers in the workshop was particularly appreciated.

Discussions among participants and decision makers were very respectful and constructive, yet critical. One key issue running through the entire debate was the perceived lack of a clear strategic vision. Whether the topic at hand was Tunisia’s decentralization process or the state’s response to radicalization and extremism in the country, participants were critical of the fact that the different processes did not seem to be guided by a clear vision and a strategy that considered the big picture – even though the state was working on drafting legislation and implementing individual projects. Participants felt that this lack of strategy was a key factor impeding effective reforms and hindering the country’s development. It was also questioned, if Tunisia’s current political process, based on consultations and national dialogue, was in fact too consensus-focused to achieve a significant political reform process.

Another point of discussion was the issue of transparency. While some participants raised the concern that negotiations behind closed doors may be necessary in order to achieve results and that full transparency might place political parties under too much scrutiny from their own electorate, with negative impact on their ability and willingness to compromise, others strongly favored the idea of open governance without exceptions.

There was agreement among participants and decision-makers that a participatory approach and greater cooperation between civil society and the state was essential for the success of the country’s political process and to reengage the marginalized and disenfranchised parts of Tunisian society. 

The last topic of discussion was the role of the media as a vehicle for think tanks and civil society organizations to bring specific political issues to the forefront of public debate and to gain the attention of decision makers in order to promote their policy recommendations. While there was agreement that media outlets could function as door openers, their potential to discredit and damage reputations was also pointed out. This was also seen as an important reason why many analysts were hesitant to engage with the media, although this reduces their visibility in the public and political discourse. Participants concurred that building trust between think tanks and media representatives was crucial to overcoming this problem. They also highlighted the importance of carefully selecting the right media outlets based on target groups as well as the potential impact of selected media outlets on political reputations.

The September 2017 workshop was part of the MENA program’s ongoing initiative to promote think tank research in the region. The project aims to strengthen the scholarly and technical capacities of civil society actors who are engaged in research and policy analysis and advice – both in the region and in the EU. The policy papers will be available online on the DGAP’s website.


  • Laura Lale Kabis-Kechrid

    Laura Lale Kabis-Kechrid

    Programmmitarbeiterin, Programm Naher Osten und Nordafrika

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